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Composting in Boston

You can compost in your backyard, or even in your apartment.

Composting is the controlled decomposition of organic material. You create a rich, black soil that is great for your yard and garden. By composting, you reduce your garbage, save money, and enrich the soil.

Have questions? Contact:

public works
1 city hall square, room 714
boston, ma 02201

2021 community garden compost requests

Public Works provides compost to community gardens at no-cost. Submit our online form by May 15, 2021, to receive your garden's compost for the 2021 season:

Compost request form

Find a compost bin or bucket

Subsidized bins and buckets

Boston residents can buy bins and buckets at:

Boston Building Resources
100 Terrace Street, Mission Hill (617-442-2262, Ext. 1)

The company has three composting options:

  1. Kitchen Scrap Bucket ($15, plus tax)
  2. Earth Machine Compost Bin ($25, plus tax, with proof of Boston residency)
  3. New Age Compost Bin ($25, plus tax, with proof of Boston residency)

You can learn more about these composting options on the Boston Building Resources websiteYou can also create your own compost bin at home.

Composting indoors

If you don’t have a backyard, you can still compost. There are a couple of different ways you can compost indoors:


Project Oscar (named after the Sesame Street character) is Boston’s first 24-hour community composting program. Members of the community can drop off food waste at one of Project Oscar’s compost bins. Learn more about Project Oscar.

City of Boston Compost Site

The City of Boston compost site is where we process all yard waste. We turn it into compost and leaf mulch, which is used in many community gardens and parks across the City.

What makes a good compost pile?

The elements of a good compost pile include biodegradables, organic material, air, and moisture.  For the best results, follow these compost instructions. The Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection also has information on composting.

To build your compost, you will need nitrogen-rich “green” materials, like:

  • food scraps (but not meat, dairy, fats, and oils)
  • fresh grass clippings
  • weeds (not laden with seeds), and
  • coffee grounds.

You will also need carbon-rich “brown” materials, like:

  • straw
  • dried leaves
  • woodchips
  • sawdust
  • shredded paper, and
  • pine Needles (pine needles should not make up more than 10 percent of the material in the pile).

Leaf and yard waste

From April until the first week of December, the City collects and composts residents’ yard waste on specific recycling days.

leaf and yard waste dates

  • Please place leaves and yard debris in large paper leaf bags or in barrels labeled “Yard Waste.” We won’t take plastic bags. Tie up branches with string and place them in barrels.
  • Please don’t include branches that are longer than three feet.  You can get a “Yard Waste” sticker for your barrel. Call 311 or make a request online. You can only get two stickers per household.

Curbside yard waste

In this photo, you can see yard waste bags set out properly on collection day.

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